and Indians' Advocate
Wednesday, February 10, 1830
Vol. II, no. 43
Page 2, col. 1c-3b
The following sketch of the proceedings of the public meeting held in Philadelphia on the 11th of last month on behalf of the Cherokees, is from the Philadelphia Gazette.
William Meredith, Esq, in offering the resolution, said, he had, for a long time, entertained the opinion, that the claim of Georgia was valid and must be sustained, but a recent and minute examination of all the facts connected with the case, had led him to a different conclusion. By the solemn stipulations of treaties which were the supreme law of the land, and as binding in this case as a treaty between our & and foreign government, the United States had guaranteed to the Indians the possession of the lands they hold at present. Mr. Meredith gave a historical review of the treaties which he thought established the point; and quoted the opinions of Chancellor Kent, of New York, and Judge Johnson, of the United States Supreme Court, to shew that the Indians were to be regarded as independent governments. Mr. Thos. M. Pettit said, "he, also, had till lately, entertained the opinion that the claim of Georgia must be sustained: but on examination had found that this opinion was not well founded. His views, in general, were similar to Mr. Meredith's. He said Georgia, as one of the United States, was a party to the treaties by which the perpetual possession of their lands was guaranteed to the Indians. If Georgia suffered through these national treaties, she ought to seek indemnification of the United States. It was wrong to make the Indians suffer. He apprehended no evil consequences from sustaining their rights. His political opinions had always been in unison with those of that party who were most zealous for state rights: but he did not apprehend that upholding the claims of the Indians would cause any serious collision between the state and federal authorities. Public opinion in this country was omnipotent, and if public opinion declared for the Indians from one end of the Union to the other, justice would be done to those suffering sons of the forest."
Dr. Hard (Professor of Chemistry in the University) said he could not reason as a lawyer, for he knew nothing of law. But he was for carrying the right of interference much further than the two gentlemen who had spoken. In a case of humanity, every man has a right to interfere-it was every man's duty to interfere to prevent murder, when only a single individual was in danger. Much stronger was the obligation to interfere, when efforts were making to inflict the greatest injuries on a whole people.
Dr. Parish said the example of republicanism exhibited in this country, had caused kings to totter to their thrones; and the most beneficial effects would ensue to the human race, if our government strictly observed justice in all its proceedings. But when he reflected on the oppression the Indians suffered, and the extent to which the domestic slave trade was carried on, he trembled for his country. The slaves of the south appeared to him like so many lighted torches peering through the crevices of the huts, which might soon kindle a combustion that would extend through the land. He feared some dreadful judgement from Heaven would fall on our nation. As the subject was of great importance, he proposed that the meeting should adjourn to some future day, to give time for the preparation of a memorial which might be every way suited to the case.
Mr. Thomas Earle attempted to speak on the Georgia side of the question. But his remarks were received with unequivocal marks of disapprobation. The memorial prepared by a committee selected for that purpose, having been read--
Dr. Ely said that almost all the memorial had his hearty approbation. But, since he had united with others in signing the call for the meeting, an incident had occurred which called for special notice. On the 8th day of January, (the last day in the year on which such a motion should have been made,) Mr. Forsyth, a senator from Georgia, had offered a resolution directing the Committee on Indian affairs to inquire into the expediency of abolishing those laws which prevent whites from entering into the Indian territory, so far as this operates on those states in which the laws of the states shall be or have been extended over the Indians. The effect of this would be to permit the Georgians to enter the territory of the Indians, and to deprive the Indians of the protection of the United States Government.- He proposed an addition to the memorial remonstrating in strong terms against this measure.
Mr. Bettle said that many of the expressions in the paper which Dr. Ely had read, would not incorporate with the rest of the memorial. He, besides, objected to any special mention being made of the state of Georgia, fearing it might irritate. The memorial dwelt on general truths, and great care had been taken in it to avoid giving unnecessary cause for offence.
Dr. Ely was for putting the saddle on the right horse--for proclaiming to the world that the Georgians were the aggressors. The United States government had never been in the wrong in its treatment of these Indians.
Mr. Bettle replied that it was not only the Georgians that were in the wrong. The states of Alabama and Mississippi, were preparing, if Georgia succeeded, to treat the Indians in their territory in a similar way. As the subject was of a general nature, he was for treating it in a general manner.
After some further discussion, it was agreed to refer Dr. Ely's
proposed amendment to the committee which had reported the memorial, with authority
for them to incorporate with the memorial so much of the amendment as they might
The meeting then adjourned, after having been in session from half past three o'clock till some time after candle light.
The memorial unanimously adopted at this meeting is ably written, and we should be glad to present it to our readers this week, but we cannot on account of its length